To celebrate the release of her gorgeous new cookbook, Juice, we asked Rosemary Ferguson to take us on a tour of her personal cookbook collection. We discovered the first cookbook she ever bought, unearthed which cookbook has changed the way she cooks, and learned more about the stack of books beside her bed. Find those out and more below…
What was the first cookbook you ever bought?
I don’t know, maybe Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef? I did have children’s cookbooks when I was really little, the Hamlyn ones. But I definitely remember buying the first Jamie Oliver book and loving the fish recipes.
Have you inherited any cookbooks from your family? Can you tell us about what they mean to you?
My mum gave me the Rose Elliot Bean book which I love to this day. She also gave me the Rose Elliot mother and baby book and then later the Gillian McKeith book too.
Which cookbook in your collection has really changed the way you cook and why?
I really loved the Gillian McKeith book, it taught me a lot at the time, and I liked that it contained lots of nutritional info about different foodstuffs. I also loved Raw Food, Raw World by Matthew Kenny and Sarma Melngailis, it really taught me how to get the most out of food, and to do it without using a cooker!
Which cookbook would you recommend as a source of advice on techniques?
The Kitchen Garden Companion by Stephanie Alexander, when I started to grow my own veg it was brilliant at helping on the growing through to the cooking.
How do you order / use your cookbooks? Do you annotate / scribble on them? Are the recipes catalogued somehow?
I usually order online, if I read about an interesting book I am very prone to ordering it then and there. Sometimes it takes me while to get round to actually reading it! I do make notes, because sometimes I try to substitute ingredients with ones I think may be more nutrient dense and still keep the flavour.
If you had to save one cookbook in your collection from a house fire, which would it be?
Oh I don’t know, I change which ones I use and go through phases. My most enduring cookbook is probably Nigella’s Feast, it has been with me for a long time, and is brilliant for (as the title implies) special occasion feasts.
Which cookbooks do you read most for pleasure and the enjoyment of the food writing?
I like the Functional Nutrition cookbook by Lorraine Nicolle and Christine Bailey, it hits the nutrition nerd spot for me!
At the moment the stack of books beside my bed are…
I am reading a book that my husband gave me called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I also have quite a few nutrition mags such as the CAM one that I read. I need to be honest though and say I don’t read enough books, life is very busy and I often find it hard to settle and read, there is definitely room for improvement!